Procedural Analysis of Reputation

I came to know about the reputation system in World of Warcraft as I investigated the mount system that players gain access to at level 20. I found myself in a unique situation because, as a Worgen Druid, I had access to both a racial and a job specific skill that increased my travel speed without a mount. Still, I decided to see if I could buy a mount in Darnassus, one of the major cities of Kalimdor.  Because I was a Worgen, I was not allowed to buy a mount from Darnassus until I improved my “reputation” with the city. With my interest piqued, I decided to further investigate the reputation system and how to engage with it.

I argue that items and level better represent the meaning of reputation than the “reputation” points that the players earn with factions. First off, how is reputation earned? Reputation points can be earned alongside quests that pertain to a faction’s city/area as well as from killing mobs and bosses. Specific reputation quests are also available that are repeatable daily. Reputation with factions can be viewed by pressing [U] and can be toggled as an experience bar in the HUD. Although this description makes reputation seem like an integral part of the game, I was only made aware of it as fleeting blips in my dialogue box that informed me of my increasing reputation in Stormwind. I assume that many player go through a large portion of the game without consciously leveling up their faction status. There are, in fact, multiple reputation levels that can be achieved in the same way that players level up with experience. The catch is that reputation can be both lost and gained, leading to negative, neutral, and positive level groups.

Reputation Levels
Level Points
to levelup
Discount Notes
Exalted 999 20% Access to racial and faction mounts and tabards
Revered 21,000 15% Access to bags in Alliance and Horde factions
Honored 12,000 10% Heroic mode keys for Outland dungeons
Friendly 6,000 5% Championing tabards for Northrend factions
Neutral 3,000
Unfriendly 3,000 Cannot buy, sell or interact.
Hostile 3,000 You will always be attacked on sight
Hated 36,000

A chart from the WoW Wiki displaying reputation levels and their bonuses

How does this manner of earning “reputation” points actually convey meaning to the player? A player may complete a quest and earn enough reputation points to level up from Friendly to Honored. Afterwards, some goods at the nearby vendor will be sold at a discount as a consequence. To me, this is no different than how reputation works outside of Warcraft. Although not as discrete as levels, reputation can be accrued within a community until a person enjoys exclusive benefits as a result. However, I think that reputation in Warcraft is more linked to equipment than actual reputation points. Earning equipment most often involves a much more complex combination of dungeon, raid, and crafting experience than does increasing reputation. Seeing a level 100 player with a full set of end game raid gear does much more for the reputation of the player than does the hidden (to other players) metric of “reputation”. Similarly, a user with low level gear that cannot carry their weight during a dungeon does not lose “reputation” points with NPCs but may be harshly criticized by their fellow teammates.

On the topic of losing reputation, I find a huge disparity between real life experience and World of Warcraft. “Reputation” points are lost either by killing members of a faction or assisting a rival faction which makes sense. However, while performing these actions decreases “reputation” points in an incremental manner, reputation is often lost in the real world all at once.

In the end, “reputation” is a procedural system that allows a player to access higher level content in the same way that experience points do. However, I feel the definition of experience and leveling up are much more applicable to their namesakes in Warcraft than is reputation. Additionally, I think that equipment better represents reputation in the player community then does faction status.

“Reputation.” WoWWiki. Web. 06 Apr. 2015.

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5 Responses to Procedural Analysis of Reputation

  1. Dandy Mott says:

    Thank you for this post. I enjoyed reading it because I haven’t really looked into the reputation system while I have been playing. Just like you mentioned, I have only really encountered reputation when I would see a statement like “your reputation has increased by 138” in the chat box. I never bothered to look into it too much, except for the occasional glance at the town reputation tab. It was cool to learn that having a high reputation actually leads to benefits and discounts. I liked how you brought reputation in real life into your blog post as well, and how having a certain reputation can lead to exclusive benefits. I go to Subway a lot on Forbes avenue and just last week I got an extra cookie from one of the workers that I see frequently. I’m not sure if this happened because the worker recognized me, because of my reputation with that Subway, or if he was just feeling generous that day. Also, I do agree with you that equipment is a better representation of reputation since it is more visible to others. I am definitely more likely to notice someone with cool looking or high level equipment. Interesting post!

    Like

  2. bagelbite13 says:

    I liked your comment on the dissonance between NPC reputation and pvp reputation. It does seem like there is a disparity between the two, at least at first. Upon thinking about this topic a bit more, I’m not so sure I agree. Isn’t it possible that a player use that NPC reputation to his or her advantage in order to access better items? In that case, other players would now be able to see the benefits of NPC reputation as the character now has a gaudy appearance. Suddenly, NPC reputation has a direct correlation to reputation within a player group. That being said, if a player completely ignores the benefits of NPC reputation, there will be no correlation whatsoever.

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  3. bagelbite13 says:

    Furthermore, I question why Dandy Mott has a reputation with Subway. There are so many other options on Forbes that surely don’t taste like expensive cardboard. Relating this back to WOW, you now have an unfriendly reputation with me and my city due to your alliance with Subway. Try Wawa and your reputation may increase.

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  4. newtonscradle7 says:

    I would have to say that reputation in WoW and in real life do play somewhat of important roles. It is more important in life more so than in WoW, but in WoW, the ability to gain a reputation gives you more of a preference and perks. If you have a high reputation, you will be more preferred and receive more opportunities, just like in life. I guess in terms of the little notification that pops up in an increase of reputation is just like in real life, you are not really aware of a change in reputation, you only encounter it in unique situations. Like the subway reputation, you could be completely rude and annoy an employee, thus never really knowing and never receiving that free cookie, but you could be really nice or a regular and be offered that free cookie. Also in terms of leveling up and getting more perks, it is like a job promotion. You won’t have those opportunities if you have a bad reputation, but you may if you have built up a good reputation. Reputation only presents itself in unique occasions but still has an underlying importance.

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  5. univerrse says:

    I think you’re right to say that the reputation system seems more like a front for the distribution of equipment. Instead of quest rewards, players receive reputation rewards. I also think it is important to mention that this diegetic implementation has little to no basis on actual story. Even though it is evident from the HUD that the character gains or loses reputation, speech with certain NPCs and quest lines for such factions stay the same. The only difference that occurs are at the extremes of reputation and even then there is not too much impact on overall story line.

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